CPAC source: Christie wasn't invited this year because he has a "limited future" in the GOP; Update: Sandy relief and Medicaid?

Hard to argue with that assessment today of all days, but … Mitt Romney’s also been invited this year. The future doesn’t get any more limited than that.

Also, since when is one’s prospects in the GOP a litmus test for whether you’re CPAC-worthy or not? Every time someone objects to GOProud’s exclusion, the rejoinder inevitably comes that it’s the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” not the “Republican Political Action Conference.” Okay, in that case, who cares about Christie’s future in the GOP? Either his ideas are conservative enough or they aren’t.

Verdict: They aren’t. Or rather, one isn’t.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie was not invited to address the Conservative Political Action Conference because he has a “limited future” in the national Republican party given his position on gun control, according to a source familiar with the internal deliberations related to the event who was not authorized to speak publicly. As a result, the focus of this year’s conference, “the future of conservatism,” made Christie a bad fit, the source tells National Review Online.

The New Jersey governor, who has expressed concern about “an abundance of guns out there,” has said he backs the gun-control legislation currently on the books in his state, some of the nation’s most restrictive. Carrying a concealed weapon, for example, is permitted only when a citizen can demonstrate “the urgent necessity for self-protection.” Christie has not been afraid to speak out against the National Rifle Association, either, calling an ad the group ran in the wake of the Newtown shooting “reprehensible” and “awful.”

Gun-control is an instant dealbreaker for appearing at CPAC, but developing the universal health care framework on which ObamaCare was based and then refusing to apologize for it isn’t? I’m not a fan of O-Care or of new gun regulations, but I know which one I’m more worried about long-term. Also, how many of this year’s speakers are okay with, if not outright sponsoring, the disastrous plan floating around Congress to grant illegals instant probationary legal status as part of a comprehensive immigration reform deal? There’s Rubio, of course, and probably Paul Ryan, maybe Rand Paul. If you want to exclude Christie, you have lots of reasons; it’s strange to settle on just one when virtually everyone has a heresy or two to his/her record. (Ryan famously voted for TARP too, of course.) Besides, if you really want to hurt him, why not invite him and let him get booed? Being rejected by rank-and-file conservatives would be more damaging to his brand than being rejected by the organizers of the conference. He can demagogue the latter as part of a close-minded ideological power structure that “fears” him or whatever. It’s harder to do that with the average joe, especially when Christie’s big asset is supposed to be his ability to win over audiences.

Speaking of CPAC absences, via the Corner, here’s S.E. Cupp announcing that she won’t speak there this year because GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans are being sidelined. They were sidelined last year too and she spoke then. Did it take lefty Chris Hayes to blaze the trail for MSNBC hosts on this? Exit question: Who wants to tell the RGA that their next chairman has a limited future in the GOP?

Update: This is a more robust critique of Christie than the gun-control reasoning. But, er…

“CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year,” Cardenas said. “Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation. This is a conservative conference, not a Republican Party event.”

Cardenas cited Christie’s decision to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law and his support of a $60 billion aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims, which he argued was filled with wasteful spending.

Okay, but the decision not to invite him leaked last night, before he announced his plans on Medicaid. And Medicaid expansion, in and of itself, is evidently no bar to speaking: As far as I know, Susana Martinez is still invited even though she ended up expanding Medicaid for New Mexico in early January. As for Sandy relief, it’s true — Christie’s cheap, demagogic triangulation with the House GOP over that is probably his lowest moment as a so-called fiscal conservative. (Or was, until today.) But by making Sandy aid the big peg for excluding him, you’re doing him an incredible political favor. Sandy relief is the biggest reason why his approval rating in Jersey is upwards of 75 percent; it’s likely also the biggest reason he polls well nationally even with Democrats at the moment. His whole post-Sandy nonpartisan brand is built on the idea that he’s less ideological and just more goshdarned caring than those heartless conservatives in the GOP congressional caucus. And now here’s CPAC proclaiming that, indeed, his Sandy relief support is cause for (temporary) banishment from conservatism. He’ll be crowing about it for weeks. It’s practically an in-kind contribution to his gubernatorial campaign.